Happy 2009! Have you made any New Year’s resolutions?
I’m not a particularly successful resolution-keeper. Last year, I vowed to eat healthier, and for six weeks it was nothing but oatmeal for breakfast, salads for lunch, and Lean Cuisine® for dinner. By the time Valentine’s Day rolled around, I felt so deprived that I consumed a two-pound box of See’s Candies® in one sitting.
All bets — and subsequently, all resolutions — were off.
Looking back on it, I know my resolution was too general — not to mention highly unrealistic! I’m guessing that many resolution-makers find themselves in similar situations.
Depending on what stage you are in your student life — soon-to-be-student, current student, recent graduate — here are a couple of specific, achievable New Year’s resolutions you could adopt in 2009:
1. Apply for at least one scholarship. Remember, free money for college means less money you’ll have to borrow, and plenty of scholarships are out there for those willing to do a little work. Find one that’s right for you by checking with your high school guidance counselor, your college financial aid office, your employer (or your parents’ employer), or a scholarship search.
2. Before you apply, read the fine print. Know exactly what you’re getting into before you sign a credit card application or a student loan promissory note, because your signature indicates that you agree to the terms and conditions. Pay attention to interest rates, fees, grace periods, and repayment periods. If you don’t understand anything, ask — before you sign.
3. Make an extra student loan payment. Student loans don’t have prepayment penalties. At least once this year, scrounge up enough cash to throw an extra $50 at one of your student loans, preferably the one with the highest interest rate. Just be sure to communicate with your lender and let them know exactly which loan you want the extra payment applied to.
My one resolution for 2009? Not to eat an entire box of See’s Candies in one sitting. Sounds pretty doable, right?